FCC Chair Wants to Vet Tennis Channel Order


Washington — Federal Communications
Commission chairman Julius Genachowski is
proposing that the agency stay enforcement of
the Tennis Channel program-carriage complaint
against Comcast so that the commissioners
can put some fresh eyes on i,t given
that it was the first such finding, according to
an agency source who has seen the proposal.

Genachowski has issues with the decision,
and his proposed order says the stay will allow
a re-examination of the record while
“avoiding potential disruption to consumers
and third-party programmers in the event
that the commission subsequently reverses
or modifies the [administratve law judge’s]

The commission last Wednesday issued a
temporary stay of the administrative law judge
decision in December 2011 in favor of Tennis
Channel. That is so
commissioners can
consider the chairman’s
proposed order
that the decision
be stayed to “preserve
the status quo
while the commission
has adequate
opportunity to reexamine
the record
in the ALJ’s disposition
of each issue closely.”

Given that the decision was the first to
mandate program carriage, according to
the chairman’s proposal, “it presents important
issues that are likely to occur in future
program carriage adjudications.”

Among the issues the chairman raised is
that the ALJ decision “imposes a tier-placement
remedy without providing guidance
on compensation and imposes a channelplacement
remedy that is not defined.”

Comcast had sought a stay, but this one
is on the commission’s own motion, the order
said, which moots Comcast’s request.

The order said the FCC expects the stay
to be relatively brief. Under a revamped
program-carriage complaint process the
FCC adopted in August 2011, the commission
must adopt an order on review of the
initial decision within five months of the
date of the last pleading was filed, though it
can also issue an order stating that it needs
more time.